Clicks vs. Conversions

I have a confession to make…

I am embarrassingly in love with Google Analytics. It’s true. I find its blue-shaded line graphs to be quite attractive, if not beautiful. I find myself often getting lost in the amazing sea of data about the performance of a particular website that we manage.

GA snapshot

Digital marketer ecstasy.

When I went to MozCon in July 2014, I took exactly one selfie. With all of the incredibly talented digital marketing professionals there, I was most starstruck by the Google Analytics evangelist, Justin Cutroni. The work that he and his team have done to create a deeper and deeper view of the trackable behaviors of each website visit has opened up new possibilities for digital marketing that weren’t possible years ago.

The good old days

Speaking of the way things were… It used to be that everyone looked to Google Analytics for a single reason; to answer the question:

How many people are coming to my website?

Much like the reason for our embrace of Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5 as a hit song, it was a simpler time.

A much simpler time...

One, two, three, four, five…

But once that question of “how many” was answered, it was only a matter of time before another question began to emerge:

Where are these people coming from?

Exploring the sources of web traffic became as important as knowing the overall visits to a site, if not more important. Somewhere on the Internet, someone made a conscious decision to visit your website with the expectation that this visit would solve some sort of problem for them. At least, that was the hope.

On most websites, it was quickly apparent that Google was one of the top sources of this traffic. Your website would show up as one of the ten blue and green listings on a Google Search, and you could celebrate each click to your site as a massive success.

The field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was born, and many dived in to figure out how to secure those top spots. After all, those were the ones which tended to lead to the most clicks.

As Google rolled out ads on these search engine results pages (SERPS), and we learned that we could jump up to the top spots through bidding against other websites for the same search queries. We still celebrated the clicks… at least until we got the bill. We knew that PPC stood for Pay Per Click, and if clicks were so amazing, why wouldn’t we want to pay to get even more of them?

As the amount of money needed to keep visitors coming to websites kept growing, we all started to expect more from those clicks, only we didn’t quite yet know what that was.

I’m here. Now what?

Whether we liked it or not, the bar for success on our websites had been raised from just clicks. Instead of just being happy with someone visiting our site, we started to focus on what they did during that visit.

Just from looking at a metric like bounce rate, we could see that some visitors did not seem to have their expectations met by what they encountered on our site, so they immediately left. But what about a visitor who didn’t bounce? What about a visitor that loaded several pages, conducted searches, spent several minutes on the site, and then finally left? Was that a successful visit? How could we know that?

A new measurement of success was needed. Clicks were no longer sufficient. What we needed from our visitors was action. What we wanted was a conversion.

Conversions were initially tied to financial transactions. Did the customer buy the product? Great. That’s a conversion.

But what about the prospect who signed up for the monthly newsletter? They obviously found something positive about that experience on your website. Isn’t that valuable? Shouldn’t that be measured?

Of course it should. So the definition of a conversion expanded. Conversions have easily exceeded clicks as the top metric for reaching the goals for many websites. Who cares if you have 10,000 clicks to your site each month if only 3 of them ever convert?

Conversions are a new form of digital marketing currency.

House Party

Imagine that you are having a house party.

House Party

OK, maybe not this kind of house party, but literally any party that happens to be at your house where you would expect 30 people.

You’ve got an agenda. You want people to have a good time over the holiday season, or you want to gather friends and family to celebrate a birthday, or maybe you want people to buy Tupperware or makeup from you. You wouldn’t just open your door,  grab 30 people off the street, commence with the party, then shuffle everyone out. While it might be an interesting social experiment, it probably wouldn’t meet the goals that you had for the party.

You see where I’m going with this already.

By embracing this maturation of measuring website performance measurement from clicks to conversions, your website can go to the next level. We are in development now for taking there soon.

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